If you build it ...

The Scheuermann family (youngest daughter Kaitlyn, mother Ro, father Troy and oldest daughter Taryn) stand in front of the entrance to the family's gymnasium constructed on the home property of the Scheuermann's in rural Van Buren County just outside of Keosauqua.

KEOSAUQUA — Troy Scheuermann just wanted a place where he hold practices for the youth basketball team he was helping coach back in 2014.

The team included his daughter, Taryn, and several of Taryn's middle school classmates.

"We were having trouble getting gym space either at the (Van Buren) high school or in Douds, which is 20 minutes away from here," Scheuermann said. "Basically, Wednesday nights and Saturday mornings were all that were open. You had third, fourth, fifth and sixth grade girls and boys teams competing for that time, so that's eight teams competing for those two times.

Troy's daughter, Taryn, now a junior at Van Buren High School, recalled those limited practice sessions.

"We basically only had an hour or two to practice each week. By the time we were done getting ready to practice, we'd only have enough time to shoot around a little bit," Taryn Scheuermann said. "We might have one practice where we'd set time for a walk through. Otherwise, we wouldn't have time to run any plays.

"That's when I said to myself that we had a problem here," Troy Scheuermann added.

It was on a drive home from church in Fairfield back home to Keosauqua where the patriarch of the Scheuermann family came up with a solution. Rather than look for limited time in other gymnasium, Scheuermann began the process that would lead building his own gymnasium on his Van Buren County property.

Four years later, one of the most popular places for local athletes including many of the current Van Buren Warrior girls and boys basketball teams is the Scheuermann's gymnasium. Besides finding Taryn Scheuermann, one of the top high school basketball prospects in the country, many have used the gym for everything from holding a practice to holding a 4-H gathering.

"I remember that day in church. The preacher's sermon quoted First Timothy 6.7. We bring nothing into the world and we take nothing out," Troy Scheuermann said. "I told my wife what greater gift could we give our children than to give them this now and give our community this now. That's where it all started."

Initially, Scheuermann went to the Van Buren school board to ask for an acre of ground to build the gymnasium. After being turned down, Scheuermann looked to his own property, which has plenty of timber surrounding the family's home.

"It's kind like the movie "Field of Dreams." If you build it, they will come," Scheuermann said. "Here we are on this gravel road with a nice gymnasium. We didn't have to mow down any crops, like in the movie. Just a couple acres of timber."

Scheuermann's wife, Ro, became the unofficial foreman for the construction project. The work that began with the clearing of the timber took just over five months to complete. The first official practice held inside the gymnasium took place for Scheuermann's middle school team on Jan. 26, 2015.

"It took some time to even begin the project. We started researching what it would cost and what it would take to make this a reality," Ro Scheuermann said. "Then you actually have to put it all down on paper. My brother actually designs buildings for a living, so we asked if he could draw something up.

"We took it around to find out what everything was going to cost. You put everything behind before you actually get to the decision to actually build it. I think we both felt this was the right thing to do. In a rural community, you'd rather have your kids having somewhere like this then out doing other things."

The gymnasium features hardwood floors that were recycled from a gymnasium used by a St. Louis junior high school. The scoreboards were formally the property of Douds Middle School. Jason Johnson, a volunteer assistant coach on the Van Buren High School boys basketball team and father of frequent visitor, Caleb, donated 12 girls and 12 boys basketballs.

Once it was complete, the gymnasium was big enough for six baskets and a court just 6 feet shy of regulation of high school regulation standards was set up inside a well-insulated building. The gymnasium includes a kitchen with a refrigerator stocked with Gatorades, a cubby for players to use as lockers and even a room for parents to sit back while their children enjoy playing basketball or volleyball on the hardwood.

"We took a leap of faith to say that we were going to do this," Ro Scheuermann said. "It's a little unconventional to build a gymnasium out here on a gravel road in the middle of Van Buren County, but we figured why not?

"What I really feel is cool about it is that we have a policy where you leave it as good as you found it. We have an honor system where the kids really manage themselves. It's really a self-maintained facility. The kids leave just as nice as it is when they arrive here. It's a great thing for the youth to rise to occasion and it's here as long as they treat it well."

Scott Jackson can be reached at sjackson@ottumwacourier.com. Follow him on Twitter @CourierScott.

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